Privacy/intellectual-property advocate Michael Geist, who’s coincidentally speaking at Concordia this week, thinks “this sends the wrong message to students.”
Facebook is more than just a popular social network. It can be a tool for advocacy and education as well as a mechanism for student groups to connect. Even if it wasn’t useful, this would still be wrong. Simply put, universities should not be in the business of blocking access to legitimate, legal websites.
First of all, it’s “Web sites” and I’ll go to my grave advocating that.
Secondly, Facebook is one of three nemeses in the computer lab in which I teach. The real wrong message for students is “don’t pay attention in class when you can chat and visit Facebook instead.” Concordia needs to ban instant messaging, too. Other than the fact that the student gets less out of class time, it’s just plain rude.
E-mail is an important tool of communication, and I bear no grudges toward that. Checking your e-mail during class is also rude, though. So is a cell phone going off.
Geist is right and wrong about Facebook’s utility for students. He’s right about the utility – rather, the potential utility, but he doesn’t consider immediacy in his criticism. Nothing appears on Facebook that a student can’t put off a few hours until at home.
In an ideal world, Concordia wouldn’t have to block access to Facebook on its computers. Nor would it have to use anti-virus software. And students would come to class to learn.
My agreement for blocking Facebook doesn’t exactly mesh with Concordia’s reasons for blocking it, but agree I do. The biggest downside to Concordia’s action is that now I can’t go to the 24 computers in my lab and tour the pages of those students who don’t sign out of Facebook.